Eugenics is the act of mating people with desirable traits to improve the human species and was first introduced by Francis Galton. Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is what caught the attention of Galton who became interested in the work. In 1859, Galton embarked on research that aimed at determining the social implications of Darwin’s concept. According to Galton, the essential characteristics of living things are biologically influenced rather than shaped by the environment CrashCourse, 2018). In 1883, he published inquiries into human faculty and its development and called it Eugenics, the discipline of good breeding.
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Such countries as the United States started passing Eugenical Laws driven by the fear that the birth of the supposedly inferior individuals would lead to weak or criminally degenerate adults. Many American states began implementing forcible sterilization in 1907. However, the actions taken by the states is not what Galton had argued for as it was negative Eugenics (CrashCourse, 2018). Many Galton-inspired scientists in the United States performed unconventional research on human differences and advocated for terrible ideas.
Some of the worst of such scientists are Lawyer, Zoologist Madison Grant, and Zoologist Charles Davenport, all of whom promoted scientific racism. By late 1920, biologists had discovered that Eugenics was bad science, but, as a source of policy by many lawmakers in the United States, it was still much present (CrashCourse, 2018). Compulsory disinfection was challenged in the United States Supreme Court, but the decision was in eugenicists’ favor and has never been technically overturned. Forced sterilization was still happening in California prisons until 2014 when it was finally banned.
In terms of the history of birth control in the United States, Margaret Sanger is recognized by most healthcare experts as a nurse who helped to advocate for its acceptance in society. Birth control is the use of contraceptives or other methods to prevent conceiving a child (TIME, 2015). After coining the term birth control, Sanger later decided to open the first-ever birth control clinic in 1926. She is credited for being the founder of the Birth Control League which focuses primarily on helping to teach people about safe abortion procedures and contraceptives. She also gave birth control lectures to many groups, including the Ku Klux Klan.
CrashCourse. (2018). Eugenics and Francis Galton: Crash course history of science #23 [Video]. Web.
TIME. (2015). The history of birth control [Video]. Web.